Archive for February, 2017

The Casual Observer or Seagulls not Allowed

Sunday, February 19th, 2017

No shit Sherlock

Lloyd George knew my father. Actually he didn’t. Dad wasn’t born when old Lloyd George was alive. He didn’t know my grandfather either. Lloyd George was a politician. My grandfather was a miner. Their shovels would never have crossed.

I only mention Lloyd George because there is a statue of him in the square in Caernarfon. When I was a kid I used to catch the school bus from the square and there would always be a seagull stood on his head. There is no seagull in this photograph but that might just be because Tom, the photographer, had shooed him away. Either that or he waited patiently for the moment when the bird had flown away.

Photographers have to be patient. Especially wildlife photographers who have been know to wait months before capturing that perfect shot of bird in flight with fish in claw, mating rhinoceri. You know the kind of stuff I mean.

On this occasion that level of patience does not apply. The statue is there already posing for the camera. All we need to do is wait for the bird to vanish. Vanish it has done. Gone. Gone in search of nourishment. Scraps of food discarded by careless office workers eating their sandwiches on a nearby bench. The occasional chip dropped by a schoolboy because it broke off the end of his fork. Rummaging in dustbins and causing a general nuisance.

We are not informed as to the identity of the person being honoured in the form of the statue. Clearly a military type as is more often than not the case. Just reward for leading the charge at the battle of XYZ. Probably. No horse on show so not a cavalryman.

Costs a lot more to have a horse as part of the statue. More metal and considerably more carving time on the part of the sculptor. The sculptor would probably appreciate the challenge. You don’t get asked to carve horses that much these days. Not as many of them around as there used to be. Horses that is. Probably sculptors too.

Maybe we have passed the heyday of both horse and sculptor. Definitely true for the gee gee. I digress.

The title given to this picture is The Casual Observer. I suppose it is possible for someone in such formal attire to approach situations casually. After all he has time on his hands. He is not going anywhere. The people he observes may not have the same luxury. Our office worker and schoolboy has to get back after the hour allocated for the lunch break or risk the wrath of supervisor and teacher. An hour is plenty of time to eat your packup and sit around for a bit relaxing, watching the world go by, taking in the sunshine etcetera etcetera etcetera. I’ve often thought of not going back and taking off instead for the coast. Never had the guts to do it.

I wonder what was in the sandwiches. I like ham myself…


mind the gap

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

advice for the traveller

the gap


mind, the gap

Port Solent Marina by Jen

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

gateway to the world

Port Solent Marina doesn’t really give you a feel for the history of the surrounding area. Home to the British navy since the Middle Ages I take the opportunity to quote from Wikipedia:

The mouth of the harbour provides access to the Solent. It is best known as the home of the Royal Navy, HMNB Portsmouth. Because of its strategic location on the south coast of England, protected by the natural defence of the Isle of Wight, it has since the Middle Ages been the home to England’s (and later Britain’s) navy. The narrow entrance, and the forts surrounding it gave it a considerable advantage of being virtually impregnable to attack from the sea. Before the fortifications were built the French burned Portsmouth in 1338. During the civil war parliamentary forces were able to carry out a successful cutting-out expedition within the harbour and capture the six-gunned Henrietta Marie.”

This picture by Jen is the view from our friend Kev’s balcony in the marina. He has a private mooring but no boat. If I lived there I’d buy a boat. Half the expense of running a boat is having somewhere to keep it. It might be interesting to plot where the yachts from Port Solent Marina set off to. Do they go around the world?

Not sure the ones in this picture are big enough for that sort of thing. I quite like the idea but there are barriers to making it happen. I’d need to learn how to sail a boat and be prepared to take a few months off to make the trip. My wife would also have to buy into the idea.

The boats in the pic look good for a trip to the Isle of WIght or maybe France. Pull in to a little port along the coast and head into town for an evening of steak frites nand vin rouge. Sounds perfect doesn’t it. Some croissants and a baguette frosh from the boulangerie for brekkie and head back across the channel for home.

Keep your eyes open for big boats going across your path. Don’t want any accidents now do we?

It isn’t hard to imagine boats setting off from Port Solent to pick up troops from Dunkirk. I don’t think the marina was there during World War 2 but you get the idea.

One thing I did notice about this pic is that there are no flags in sight. Perhaps boats only put flags up when they are going somewhere. You can’t hear it because there is no sound in this picture but the wind is blowing the stays against the masts creating quite a racket. Can get quite noisy when the Marina is full as it is during the summer months. You also hear the shouts of people calling across to other boats and to people on the shore. “Don’t forget the towels”, or the beer or some similar essential accessory for the perfect cruise.

Gotta go. The sun is over the yardarm.


Ice cream?

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

hang on I got a customer

So I said to him nah nah nah mate you got it all wrong. It was Nietzsche, it was Nietzsche wot said “Without music, life would be a mistake”. Not Nick Grimshaw. Ee must have been quoting Nietzsche. An anyway I’m still not coming wiv ya to Glastonbury. How dya think I can afford a ticket for Glastonbury wiv this job. I’d have to sell a lot of ice creams. I know I know I do like Adele. I think she’s great but do I really want to wade around in all that mud to get a glimpse of er. Nah nah nah mate. I’ll see you dahn the Crazy Parrot on Friday night if I can persuade the girls to come along.



I know, unbelievable innit? How they have the bare faced cheek to try it on.

So how’s that book coming along. Annals of Confucius. Yea that one. I thought it was a good read. Inspiring. Made me fink anyway. “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Livin in cloud cuckoo land mind you. Snot as easy as that is it? Dya think I’m working in an ice cream van for the love of the job. The travel bit and the getting to meet people is all very well but it’s not quite what I had in mind when I left school. An it’s a real struggle to keep the weight off. I don’t want to have to go buying new clothes all of the time. On these wages!

Yeis yeis I am coming round to yours on Sunday. It’s my day off. He wants me to do some overtime but I’m not going to. He can find someone else to do it. I got to have a life you know I told im. E doesn’t like it but hard luck. I’ve been looking forward to havin a good natter. Specially when we are both readin the same book.

Nah I can’t do Tuesday. We’ve got to go and see my uncle Steve. He’s not been very well and mum wants to take some stuff round to his. Grapes and that kind of fing. She’s knitted him a scarf as well. I told her Uncle Steve must have loads of scarves. He’s a Chelsea fan. She wouldn’t have it. Took her weeks to knit the thing. It’s not even the right colour but she said he doesn’t have to wear it to a match. He doesn’t go that often anymore. Not since he had the problem. Anyway we’re going Tuesday night. Yea yea yea I know but you can’t tell em.

How’s Darren? Oo is he? Did he? That’s very good then. What are you going to wear? Oh yes you look great in that dress. You can wear the gold earrings he gave you last year for Christmas. And those red heels. Phoar. I can just see you now.

Hang on I’ve got a customer…



Sunday, February 12th, 2017


Very satisfying standing by the incinerator burning things. It’s a blokey thing. Like barbecuing. Sometimes takes a while to get going. Use a bit of kindling and maybe a fire lighter or two. On this occasion I was burning green wood so it took more than a couple of fire lighters. Lots of stuff to get on with in out back garden. The greenwood was cuttings from apple and pear trees. The pear is going. Diseased. Not borne fruit for years. Decided we are going to get specialists in to finish the job. Need a chainsaw and need something doing with the roots. Also 60 metres or so of hedge to trim front and back. I was eventually able to put the lid on and leave the fire to its destructive and sanitizing work. The weather was closing in. Stripped off and had a shower. My clothes stank. Wore the same coat a week or so later and you could still smell the woodsmoke. It’s ok in mild doses. We also have a ciminiere though that seldom gets used. There is also the fire pit which is great for sitting around of a summer’s evening drink in hand. I like the colours of this incinerator. A thin layer of rust blended with the galvanised steel. It lives inside the old fort at the bottom of the garden. It’s not a real fort. I built it a few years ago for the kids. They used it once or twice. I left it too late. They had grown out of playing with forts at the bottom of the garden. I’ll probably take it down this year. Health and safety. The ash from the incinerator is good for putting on the raspberry beds. Surprising how little ash we had left over after burning the fruit tree branches.  The ideal time for incinerating is on a cold winter’s afternoon. The sun is low in the sky and it will be getting dark early. You are well wrapped up, gloves on, scarf around the neck and a wooly hat pulled well down. The heat from the fire feels good on your face. Occasionally you have to move to avoid the swirling smoke. The wind keeps changing direction. Occasionally you put on more wood and press it down with a branch held back for the purpose. Some branches need cutting down to size before they can be burnt. A branch lopper recently purchased from B&Q does the trick. Feels good to be able to snap thick branches as if they were little twigs. Crack, crack and in they go. You would think that an incinerator would engender camaraderie amongst family members. Everyone gathered around warming their hands, a bit of banter. It is rarely like that. It can be a lonely job stood there at the bottom of the garden. Still it’s a job that needs doing and if I don’t do it nobody else will. Can you smell the wood smoke?


prison ships of the modern era

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

another antipodean adventure

We got on board in Southampton.
The good times start from the moment you’re onboard
Would the person in cabin C520 please return to your cabin and close the balcony door. We are running into some heavy weather seas.
I was seasick all the way from Southampton until we got to Gibraltar.
Glad we went for an outside cabin.
I like the first officer – very nice.
You do get a bit fed up with three five course meals a day.
Getting sick to death of deck quoits.
Bit worried going through the Suez Canal
It’s our third cruise
Good job I don’t get seasick, much.
Oo there’s the captain
I think maybe 3 months was too long
Not sure I want to go ashore here
Is that an albatross?
Dolphins on the starboard bow.
I thought Singapore was lovely
Don’t think I could cope with being cooped up with them for much longer
The modern day prison hulk. Non stop and one way to Australia.
Combine the excitement of cruising with the sophistication of a five-star hotel
Over 10 places to dine
Over 10 places to unwind
7 entertainment venues
8 bars and places to socialise
Let me off I want to go home
Are there any stowaways in the lifeboats I wonder? Just like in the movies.
Don’t talk to me about the Titanic.
Step aboard and find everything you need for a relaxing holiday including plenty of restaurants, bars, pools, a luxurious spa, a gym, a theatre and shops.
“This was the best holiday that I have ever been on and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would recommend this ship to anybody looking to go on a family cruise”
Norwegian Fjords 7 nights full board from Just £679* per person.
Sailing on over azure oceans, spend a day in Grenada with its waterfalls, rainforests, volcanic craters and beaches to die for – especially Grand Anse – just around the bay from St George’s, and you won’t be disappointed with lush St Vincent – fresh seafood, gentle calypso and unspoilt coves – it has an allure of its own.
Never been on a cruise meself
Could have sworn the guy on that balcony was naked.
Hoist the mainsail
Splice the mainbrace
Just 15% deposit secures your booking.
£400 onboard spending money included
Floor to ceiling sliding glass doors leading to balcony with table and reclining chairs
Step aboard the elegant flagship of our fleet and be captivated by her charm.
Pirates in sight skipper
Sail before steam
I don’t ever want this cruise to end
We made such good friends
The Cookery Club is a great way to learn from top chefs
why not try your hand at deck tennis, the golf net or the state of the art gym?
Nice to see dry land after all this time
See Naples and die
You get a bit bored with lobster thermidor
We had a lovely cabin steward
I this Australia or New Zealand?
I am ready to go home



It must have been about eight to nine years ago. At least seven anyway, because it was before the Chapel had been redeveloped and that was finished back in 2010. I was worship leading a service about something or other, and I used a picture of one of those eighteenth century Atlantic slave ships to make a point. This picture of a prison ship of the modern era took me straight back there. Funny how things link up in one’s mind and lead you down paths you might not expect (nor want to go down), the past jumping into the present, unbidden – a stream of consciousness, Mrs Dalloway moment.
I do like today’s picture though. I mean, if you’ve got to be “locked up”, why not be locked up with a sea view, full board and decent wi-fi? Hopping from port to port, “Only one more sleep to Venice!”, the Captain’s table, full English every day. The weather looks good too. But even the Med gets rough, it’s not the mill pond some people mistakenly think. Ask the boat people. And as for the Bay of Biscay, don’t even get me started.
But if the weather’s too bad for outside, there’s always the entertainment or the bar. Or both. Some go for the all-inclusive package including booze. They been on scores of cruises, maybe hundreds. HUNDREDS! They love the whole thing though, the vibe, the new people, the food, the isolation from the grunge of “ordinary” life. You’d have to be sociable, though, you really would. And I don’t suppose a domestic’s much fun. Back to the bar to cool off maybe.
Sleep must be good though, and a calm relief from the rigours of the day – physical (the pool), mental (the crossword), gastronomic (unending). The hum of the engines drowning out next door’s shenanigans. The gentle rock, no hint of anything to get too worried about. “They don’t get icebergs in the Med, do they?”. The thought of tomorrow’s breakfast and a stroll up the Rock of Gibraltar, fighting off the baboons trying to nick your mid-morning croissant.
I wish I could remember the theological point I was making way back then, as worship leader. It would have been something about injustice and Christ’s teachings and how sad He’d be if He was around now. I do remember the picture I used then though, to illustrate the point, whatever it was. I’ll never forget it. Very different from today’s picture. Row upon row of decks, bunks and bodies, forced migration, cheek by jowl, suffering, death and disease. A few in the congregation wept and I was close to tears myself, having to catch myself every now and again, and “pull myself together” so I could continue. Hymns sung with a lump in the throat, prayers heartfelt, the collection plate bulging.
I’d like to say we have moved on, and in a sense we have. At least we know it’s wrong now. Most of us do anyway. Unlike back then.


Picture by Scott Murray

Sunday, February 12th, 2017

going off the rails?

At some point in the Eighties the artist, musician and writer, Bill Drummond hatched a plan to stand on a manhole in Mathew Street in Liverpool (home of Erics and The Cavern), while at the same time the bands he managed, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes would perform in Iceland and New Guinea. ‘The Reason?’ as Bill explains in his book ‘45’ – ‘This was pretty unfocussed, but had something to do with harnessing the powers of the interstellar ley lines for my own personal gratification’. It didn’t come off due to complications with Julian Cope being too off his mash to be communicated with and The Bunnymen being too good at pop music to bugger about on a whim.

Bill has been a direct and subliminal influence on my artistic life for some time. His words, music and correspondence have pushed me to do things and create art that I would have previously dismissed as a daft idea. I’ve thrown paint at a wall to the sound of ‘Song 2’ by Blur, I’ve made a radio show that was also turned into an exhibition by visiting randomly selected grid squares from the A to Z  map of Lincoln. I’ve set up the National Leaning Helpline – 0844 487 8464, and most recently I’ve dug a hole somewhere in the UK and buried £100 in cash for anyone to find via the Buried Treasure Podcast.

For some time I’ve been wanting to do something with lines, Interstellar Ley or otherwise. The usual one page of Google research done and the ‘ley line’ thing is too mystical for me. I like the idea of creating lines rather than interfering with forces I don’t understand.

I’m already working on a project to gather musicians at different churches in Lincolnshire and record something dedicated to a medieval Church that burned down. Lines will then be drawn between the churches and displayed at St Georges at Goltho. If you are a Timpani player let me know, I’d like you stand outside a church and bang your drum please.

This picture was taken on Cross Street in Manchester. Time could be spent trying to find connections to Cross Street in Lincoln, but we can take this opportunity to create something new rather than trawl the internet for something tenuous.

At some point soon the photographer will find a manhole on the pictured street and stand on it while at the same time I will stand on a manhole on Cross Street in Lincoln.

What we will do and how long we will do it for, while stood on the manholes remains unfocused. There is a good chance it will involve keeping an eye on traffic. No suggestions please. We also don’t know how we will explain our actions to our loved ones as we leave the house, let alone passers-by. We will however have done something that we would not have done without the Picture Paints 500 Words project taking place, something unique.


psychotherapy and mind

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

the worried snake

Took me a while but I decided that the snake is not scared. He is worried.

The girl, I’m gonna call her Lucy, or Luce for short, is a believer. The snake, who shall remain nameless, does not understand this. Not for he the finer aspects of faith or philosophy. The snake sees things in black and white, or in this case red and yellow.

Luce however is on a journey. It matters not whether she is butterfly hunting, snake hunting or even out collecting dragons eggs. It’s a journey. Where this journey is taking her is another issue. She may be about to enter oblivion, the fire emanating from the recently cracked open egg horribly consuming.

There could be a dragon flying overhead about to swoop down and sink its claws into her. I suspect the artist may have wanted us to think the snake came out of the egg but the egg is far too big for the snake. Old snakey boy may have been circling the egg and wondering whether it was too large to swallow whole when it was taken by surprise and saw the dragon hatch.

On the other hand our heroine  may reach the top of the ladder, step trustingly into the lava filled ovoid cauldron and sink with deep satisfaction into its warm and comforting embrace.

Our duty here at first glance is to admire Luce. We should not be concerned with the tribulations present in the mind of the snake. Luce is where it is at. Or is it? Luce is unquestioning. Trusting. Perhaps devoid of anything really interesting to talk about beyond her faith.

Does the snake represent the thinking person? What are you up to Lucy? For goodness sake girl. The snake is not worried that Luce is trying to catch him.  Her net is implausibly small although try telling her that. He is thinking her trust in any outcome does not make sense.

He may also be wondering where he could get hold of one of those ladders. Looks very handy, being able to be climbed up without having to prop it up against anything solid.

The disappointing thing about all this is that we will almost certainly never find out what happens to Luce or to the snake. It is something beyond our capability. Unless of course the artist has a sequel in mind but I suspect that is not the point.

Where does the snake go from here? I think he certainly wants to talk to someone about what he has seen. If you are worried about something then talking about it is a good thing to do. I don’t even think worry is the right word here. It’s an enquiring concern.

Whatever happens we are where we are. The backdrop has been painted and we click frame by frame through the scene emerging before us. We can change the colours and even alter the brightness but can we change the outcome?



What goes around

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

relaxing sound

Round like a circle, in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel*

Things that spin are fascinating. I have long pondered why both my children, and my (ex) cats would just sit and watch the washing machine.

Lets not talk about the time the cat got in the tumble drier…

The changing colours and images as your eyes try to make sense of what’s going on.

“Why do the wheels of the cars on television sometimes go backwards daddy?”

I always thought it was the perfection of a circle that draws us in. But the clothes drop and move in random patterns, the wheels spin and glitter as speed changes, so its not perfection its the imperfection we watch and long for.

Never ending or beginning, on an ever spinning reel*

Its the constant change you look for. it never ends. On and on and on every spin is a new imperfection and you look for and start to anticipate the next one. Then eventually, if you can sit, you just see, nothing else, your mind can drift and wander and ponder, all the things that you, perhaps don’t find time to think of normally.

I don’t think adults sit and stare. I have no evidence for that I’m just guessing. And any one who doesn’t should.

Next time you have the chance, just sit and watch the world go by out of the window. On the train, the plane, the car (unless you’re driving) or just out the office window.

And the world is like an apple whirling silently in space, like the circles that you find in the windmills of your mind.*

My windmills take me to places I have been and places I haven’t. Gig’s I haven’t played, Girls I didn’t kiss. Arguments I should of had. Arguments I shouldn’t of had. Things I shouldn’t of said. Girls I shouldn’t of kissed.

As things revolve and swirl, they always come back to the same reality. Time with my family, the birth of my children, joy of first steps, first words and that smile on everyones face when I get home from a trip away.

The dead pan way my youngest told me my father had passed away. Not because he wanted to be the first to tell me (he wasn’t) but because he thought he could make it better by being the first person to give me a hug.

Like a door that keeps revolving in a half forgotten dream
Or the ripples from a pebble someone tosses in a stream*

My windmills take me all everywhere. My actual past. My made up past and the past I sometimes wish I had had.

But they always remind me, that where I am, is the place I want to be and I wouldn’t change anything. Like ripples in a pond, once change could bring the whole thing crashing down around me.

“As this images unwind,
Like the circled that you find in the windmills of your mind.*

Lyrics taken from “Windmills of you your mind” Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman



This picture reminds me of the time last year when I lost my phone. We were on holiday. Staying with my dad in the Isle of Man. The drill when staying with dad is that on the last day we change the sheets on all the beds and stick the old ones in the washing machine ready for the next lot of visitors.

On this occasion after breakfast I came looking for my phone, last seen on top of the bed. Nope. Nothing there. Only a newly made bed.

Hmm. Looked all over the house and tried ringing the phone but absolutely nothing. Then I had a thought. What if the phone had been mixed up with the sheets and was in the washing machine? We went out to the garage where said appliance resides and lo and behold, there in full view was the phone going round and round.

I almost said “in full glare of the media” when describing seeing the phone but that was no true. This is because the media need methods of recording to be able to apply glare and the device in question was the phone, presently, as we know, going round and round in the washing machine.

Now this is where the picture comes in. I had in mind the concept of sitting in front of the washing machine listening to my Spotify playlist emanating from the phone over my Bluetooth enabled headset. Perfectly feasible as the phone, being a Samsung Galaxy S7, is waterproof. Or so they say. It’s one of the reasons I bought it. Thing is I hadn’t had the courage to really test it out, even though the ad shows it being dropped in the kitchen sink. Now the decision was taken away from me and it was being tested in a real life situation.

I was quietly confident that the phone was going to be ok although I must admit there was an element of concern here. The problem with my Spotify/headphones scenario was that in order to access my tunes I’d have to open the App on the phone and that was not possible because of where it was.

Tbh that scenario didn’t even cross my mind at the time. I was more concerned with retrieving the phone and seeing it if still worked. I switched the machine off. Unfortunately just doing this doesn’t work because the door won’t open. I must have moved the dial on to the end of the cycle where it drains the drum and then had to wait a few minutes before the door would open. When it did open I am happy to report that the phone was amazingly in full working order.

Now coming back to this particular picture I do wonder what the kid in the red is listening to. Probably not the same stuff as my Spotify playlist. I totally get the hypnotic attraction of the washing machine. Very therapeutic. Might even try it myself sometime. Maybe.


If a picture paints 500 words what would those words be?

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

Another online Arts Festival Event – 7pm Thursday 23rd Feb

Here we go folks. It’s the next phil0s0pher0ntap online event for arty types, literary types, any other types really. Here’s the deal.

Someone publishes a picture on the phil0s0pher0ntap website as a featured image. Others write 500 words about that image. Simples.

What people write is entirely up to them. You can choose more than one image to write about, just post and image or post and image and write words. Could be words about your own image or someone else’s.

You can do this now although see instructions below on how to do it.

To do this you can either

1 Message me and I’ll create a login for you – I’ll need your email address. You can then post.

2 Message me the photo (max 2MB please) together with your email address and I’ll create a login and post the pic for you.

You can use the login to post other stuff. You either need to have used wordpress before or be willing to learn. It isn’t difficult.

A few guidelines

You can either publish your own Picture Title as the title of the post or leave it to me to decide.

Pictures should be no more than 2MB in size – any bigger and page loading times start to lengthen. Smaller is also good.

Pics should be no smaller than 300 x 300 pixels in size because otherwise they won’t share to Facebook.

Lets keep it to one picture per User – wordsmiths won’t need to be logged in. They just need to leave their email address and name/nom de plume.

Pics should be published as featured images. If you need help with this ask but there is a link down the right hand side of a new post (you need to know how to create a new post obvs – again ask)

For the 500 words just write them using a wordprocessor – exactly 500 words and copy and paste into a comment under whichever picture you want to write about. The comment won’t appear immediately. We want to hold back the words until the night of the Event.

On the night (7pm Thursday 23rd Feb) I’ll publish all the comments and everyone will be able to see all the words within a few seconds.

Manhole cover out of Grimsby by Market Rasen

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

Fowler & Holden

Shopping list 4th February 2017

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Weekend in Tealby

Dry Cured Bacon (fosters)
Spicy Lincolnshire Sausages (fosters)
Bread (Waitrose hereon)
Pizza x 3
Washing up liquid
Maple syrup
1 pt milk
Decent cheese
Walking snacks